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Gadsden County dealing with fires ahead of hurricane season

Hurricane season is less than two months away
Posted at 5:43 PM, Apr 01, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-01 17:43:24-04

GADSDEN COUNTY, Fla. — Hurricane season is less than two months away and we are just five months removed from Hurricane Michael and Gadsden County is still dealing with the debris left behind by the Category 4 storm.

According to Gadsden County Emergency Management, the county has cleaned up all debris from Hurricane Michael in public areas, but there is still work to be done.

People in Gadsden County still have debris in their yards, more than 100,000 trees are still on the ground, creating a risk of fires.

"Our risk has been elevated because of the lack of rain and because of the increased debris laying on the ground," said Todd Schroeder, Wildfire Mitigation Specialist at Tallahassee Forestry Center.

Since Jan. 1, there have been three fires in Gadsden County caused by debris burns, prompting the county to declare a state of emergency.

EMS Director for Gadsden County, Major Shawn Wood, said the area needs to act now, especially with recent news of the fires in Bay County.

"We have fear that, that could be us any day if people aren't cognizant of the rules and expectations of fires," said Major Wood.

Officials with Tallahassee Forestry Center said they get calls every day from people looking to get authorization to burn on their property.

"We're affecting our burn authorization to reflect the dryness of the area," said Schroeder. "We look at weather real hardcore right now."

Officials say that if you do get authorization to burn or want to take extra care to prevent fires, you should make sure your home is about 60 feet clear of debris or other flammable objects.

"If you clean up and give the fire nothing to eat as it advances then you are going to make yourself and your family and your home a lot safer," said Schroeder.

According to the Tallahassee Forestry Center, the possibility for elevated risk of fires in Gadsden County could last until summer.